Home fires kill seven people every day in the United States. Our fire departments and the American Red Cross are joining forces to change that.

On April 27, we will visit homes in New Auburn and on and around Pleasant Street (Ward 7 Area) in Lewiston to install free smoke alarms and provide preparedness tips for “Sound the Alarm” — the national Red Cross event to prevent home fire deaths. People living in other parts of the two cities can request an appointment for follow-up on a different day.

People tend to be both overconfident and under-prepared for home fires. A survey for the Red Cross found that 40 percent of Americans believe that the chances are greater that they will win the lottery or be hit by lightning than experiencing a home fire — the most common disaster in the United States.

Smoke alarms reduce the risk of death by half and people can improve the odds of survival with an escape plan that includes two ways out of each room. These steps can make all the difference.

The Red Cross, fire departments and other partners have installed more than 1.6 million free smoke alarms nationally since 2014. We know that this work has saved at least 552 lives, including three in Old Town last year.

We can make our neighbors safer by volunteering. We encourage people to sign up for an installation appointment and learn how to prepare your family. You can do all those by visiting soundthealarm.org/maine.

Our actions could save the next life.

Robert Chase, Fire Chief, city of Auburn

Brian Stockdale, Fire Chief, city of Lewiston

Jonathan Shapiro, Regional Disaster Officer, American Red Cross